Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. For me, a necessity lead to a discovery. The discovery was that the old radio was still working, but the need was far more than just entertainment.
Chicken pox had put me under a 21-day quarantine. The first day seemed all right — I was at my home, my condition was OK. By evening, the viruses started showing their might. I was feeling the itch and the temperature, ending up with a sleepless night. The next day was the worst.
All alone in my room, I was desperate to speak to somebody, to see TV, to hear songs. The horrendous onset and irritating advance of the disease, and the discomfort of boils on my face and torso had left me desperately wishing for sleep and relief.
Call from friends were my only solace, but solitary confinement made hours in between extra long. It touched the nadir on the second evening. In a fit of rage and desperation, I dragged my ailing physique up the table and started searching the storage cabinets. There I made a prized discovery — an old radio! A boon in the shape of a red Panasonic two-in-one!
I was so excited that I didn’t wait even to dust the unused equipment. Iplugged it, switched it on, and there it beeped — All India Radio a.k.a. Aakashavaani!
All the effort and the excitement had left me exhausted. I set the tun-ing right and went to sleep. Next morning, at 5.50, my cellphone woke me up. I switched on the radio, and heard ‘Vande mataram’ and ‘subhashitam’ from the Thiruvananthapuram AIR station — for the first time in a decade.
Nothing had changed. The signature tune, the background scores for the programmes, even Baldevanand Sagar who read the Sanskrit news! I can say for sure the most common Sanskrit sentences in Kerala are “Samprati vaartaaha shruyantam. Pravaachakaha Baladeva-nanda Sagaraha.” (You are listening to the news. Read by Baldeva-nand Sagar)
Long back, our days started listening to that. Grandma was very par-ticular about that, and she regularly woke me up to switch on the radio for her. Doordarshan was hardly a competition for AIR, but cable television was. TV channels were evolving by the day, but AIR never bothered to change.
Thank God it didn’t, for I wasn’t just hearing the radio. Familiar tunes, familiar voices, even songs! I was reliving those moments, of home food, before we were spoiled by the fast food served in satellite dishes.
Bahujana hitaya, bahujana sukhaya...